10 top writing tips and the psychology behind them

There are plenty of folks happy to tell you how to write better, just as any doctor will tell you to “eat right and exercise.” But changing your writing (or eating) habits only happens when you understand why you do what you do. I can help you with that. That proposal or email you wrote must now compete for … Continued

Do you work for a zombie company?

A company with a clear mission has a soul. The soul motivates workers to contribute in positive ways to a shared goal. What do you call a company that has no soul? A zombie company. A zombie keeps moving forward but exercises no judgment. A zombie company has financial incentives where the soul should be. People do things because it … Continued

The recipe that generates Dr Oz’ bullshit

Start with a topic that’s of crucial interest to a lot of people. Add a high degree of uncertainty. Season with media. Stand back and watch the bullshit appear. For example: which direction will stocks go? Everybody cares but nobody knows, so there’s lots of entertaining opinion on both sides. Add CNBC and you’ve got entertainment. … Continued

Rewrite passive voice and reveal the truth

Passive voice sentences conceal who is acting and create creepy feelings in the reader. Fixing them reveals the truth and improves the tone of your writing. If you write advice or instructions of any kind, here’s your tutorial. Look at this example I encountered last night at the Red Sox game, where the team wrote the rules for “Friendly” Fenway … Continued

Why can’t I use nice words instead of “bullshit”?

My dear readers, I thank you all for taking me seriously. But some of you have wondered why it’s necessary for me to use a swearword so much. Am I just trying to get attention? About two weeks into my new career Forrester’s CEO George Colony contacted me. I worked for George for 20 years; … Continued

5 ways that writing without bullshit helps your career

Writing without bullshit seems like a good idea. But is it actually better for your career? For example, somebody wrote this about their company: System-level competition is a new model for strategy in a globally-linked, information-oriented society. This is a methodology for strategic innovation that blends system design and management, ecosystem-centered business strategy, and applications from … Continued

Comcast customer service transformation, in Philadelphia Magazine

When you read about corporate transformations, be wary. Reporters love to tell these stories, because they humanize companies. We love to read them. But they’re stories, which is not the same thing as truth. Take this article about about how Comcast is transforming its customer experience, “Comcast Knows How Much You Hate Them,” by Richard Rys, in … Continued

The parable of the troublesome product manager

Once there was a product manager named Joan who worked at an Italian foods company called Patitucci’s Delights. Joan loved Italian food, and she loved helping her company sell it and make a profit. She was in charge of prepared dinner products, working alongside two other product managers for pasta and sauces. Joan had a … Continued